Bill Clinton has ‘no earthly idea’ whether Hillary Clinton will seek White House in 2016

Former President Bill Clinton said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation’’ that he has “no earthly idea’’ whether his wife, Hillary Clinton, will run for president in 2016.

“She’s tired,’’ Bill Clinton said of his wife, who plans to step down as secretary of state at the end of President Obama’s current term, even if Obama wins reelection.

Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic primary to Obama in 2008. She will be 69 on Election Day in 2016; if she were to win, Hillary Clinton would tie Ronald Reagan as the oldest candidate ever elected.

Hillary Clinton spent eight years as a US senator from New York and eight years as first lady when her husband was president.


“She’s really worked hard,’’ Bill Clinton said. “I think she’s done a fabulous job. I’m very proud of her. But she wants to take some time off, kind of regroup.’’

Clinton said the Democratic Party will have many qualified candidates in four years but suggested his wife would be at the top of the list.

“I know I’m biased,’’ Clinton said, “but I think she demonstrated as senator and as secretary of state that she has extraordinary ability, a lot of common sense, a lot of, you know, stick-to-itiveness. She’ll push a rock up a hill as long as it takes to get it up the hill.’’

Clinton also addressed the ongoing White House race between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in the interview with CBS and in a sit-down with “Fareed Zakaria GPS’’ on CNN.

Echoing a line from his well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton told “Face the Nation’’ host Bob Schieffer that no president could have “magically’’ repaired the national economy in only one term. Romney is staking his candidacy on an ability to speed the country’s economic recovery, which he says has been unsatisfactorily slow under Obama.

Clinton attacked what he called many Republicans’ “militant antigovernment’’ philosophy, which includes staunch opposition to tax hikes as a way to help balance the federal budget. Obama has proposed raising taxes on wealthy Americans, partly by allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire at year’s end for households that earn more than $250,000 per year.


Clinton, who reportedly riled the Obama campaign in June by suggesting Congress should temporarily extend the cuts for all Americans, did not repeat the idea on Sunday, focusing instead on Obama’s “balanced approach’’ to deficit reduction.

Citing Romney’s 2011 tax return — which the GOP nominee released on Friday, showing he paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent on $13.7 million in income — Clinton said “I don’t think we can get out of this hole we’re in if people at that income level only pay 13 or 14 percent.’’

In the interview with Zakaria, Clinton rejected the notion that the US spends too much money on its social safety net.

“Do I think there are some Americans who are trapped in a cycle of dependency? Yes, I think that is a problem,’’ Clinton said. “That’s why I supported welfare reform, to change it from an entitlement system to a work-based system, to an empowerment system. But the money we spend is not out of line with other advanced countries.’’

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